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LIGHTHOUSE DIARIES
was spent in Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon and the edge of the jungle."
"In September of 1947 Mr Prud'hommeaux, his wife (Patricia Gordon, also a distinguished writer of
children's books), and their son Gordon went to live on Fire Island, and that winter the Great South Bay
froze solid, isolating them completely".
" 'The Sunken Forest' was the inevitable book for me to write' he says. 'We simply haunt the place that
frightens most visitors'. "
"Rafaello Busoni, who illustrated both 'The Sunken Forest' and 'The Port of Missing Men', found the
Prud'hommeaux island retreat tremendously impressive and exciting. 'Fire Island is so narrow that it
takes faith to build a home on it', he wrote. 'But courageous people have always picked places thought
too risky, and fared well'. "

The last keeper of the Lighthouse was Captain Leighton, until about 1934 I believe (must check that
and date of decommissioning). Last (this past) June (of 1996) Keith Young told me that Captain
Leighton's grandson lives in Gouldsboro. I looked him up and spent a very pleasant hour at his
home w. he and his wife. He showed me an old, faded framed photo of "Cap", as his grandson, Chan
Noyes (his mother was Cap's daughter) calls him. (I must get a copy of that photo and bring Chan out
to the island. He hasn't been back since Cap left his post here 60 some odd years ago!).
Chan obviously loved his grandfather and got visibly emotional as he slowly related stories and
anectdotes to me.
"I was christened on the way to the island," Chan Noyes told me. "We were to go visit the
lighthouse. I was only a year or so old. Cap had given my mother instructions to go down to the
Schoodic (Peninsula) shore and wait for him to row over from Mark. When we were stepping into the
boat, Mother slipped and we both got a dunking in the water. That was my christening." (I have
paraphrased Chan's words here to the best of my recollection. But the essence is pretty close to his
words if I recall correctly).
Chan also told me that after Cap retired he came home to live with his daughter and grandson
(Chan) and that Cap's daughter (Chan's mother) prepared her father's meals. He apparently was a
basic meat and potatos man. One afternoon, Chan's mother was late coming home from a visit with a
neighbor. Expressing concern about having her father's dinner ready on time, she accepted the
neighbor's offer of a large quantity of food the neighbor had purchased the night before and had
left over. The food was from a new Chinese take-out restaurant (probably in Ellsworth), the first
Chinese restaurant ever in the area. According to Chan, the food was set in front of Cap and for the
longest time Cap just stared at it. Eventually he slowly lifted his fork into the food, lowered the
loaded fork down his side to his feet and the nose of his dog lying next to him. The dog sniffed it,
stood up and walked away! Cap turned his head and said " (Dog's name) won't even eat it",
according to Chan. (I wish I could remember the dog's name because Chan's dog, who wouldn't  let
me stop patting him during my visit, has the same name. I'll have to ask Chan).



(Note- Chan died in 2005. I visited his wife, Gail, in 2007. She reminded me that both Cap's and Chan's dogs, boxers, were
named "Bing")

It is blowing a gale outside w. driving rain out of the east. Whitecaps everywhere except for the
middle ground in the lee of Mark where the wind streaks across the water toward Turtle. My boat is
straining on its mooring from the wind but with virtually no waves there (very unusual) there is little
up and down motion. Hence, chaffing should not be too big a problem. I hope not. Bow line is
secured to the hull on an eye bolt with backing plate. So there shouldn't (
smiley face) be much chafe
there. Secondary line from bow deck cleat to mooring line has no chock and no anti-chafing gear
around it. That line is about one foot longer than the primary line from the eyebolt and will basically
kick in on a sustained basis only if the primary line lets go. Let's hope it holds. I wouldn't put much
money on the secondary attachment for long.
Howling, howling, howling.

Went to see if any of Pat Gordon's (Rene' Prudhommeaux's wife) children's books were in any of the
bookcases. Didn't find any. But did find a 1909 first edition (with jacket) of Beatrix Potter's  "
Ginger
and Pickles
", one of the "Peter Rabbit"  books.

I'm watching seagulls hover in the wind. They don't even need to flap their wings. It is as if they are
suspended by an invisible wire from the sky.

Hundreds of Eiders feeding outside the sun room just off the western shore of Mark, facing (their
heads) toward the rocks. When I stand in the window, they all immediately turn and head away! It's
fun watching them dive. They are like little kids. They pull their heads and necks back and then
plunge, roll forward in one burst, disappearing head first, showing their tail feathers as they go
under.

I'm watching a bird that I saw yesterday on the island. He (or his brother or sister) is flying around,
up and down over the the Eider ducks, but not landing in the water. About the length of a seagull
but very slender body and wings. Quick movements. Brownish and grayish. What is it? To my
Audubon Field Guide.

Now I'm not sure what I've been calling Eiders are instead Lesser Scaup (15" - 18") - white on top of
bill and back. No. According to the
Field Guide, Lesser Scaup don't include Maine or saltwater in
their life!

Don't know what the other bird I described is. Possibly a Cory's Shearwater? "Habitat: Open Oceans.
Range: Breeds in Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, and occurs in summer and fall off the East
coast of North America"......."Often follows ships in search of food".

It's 11:45 am and the seas, rain and wind have all kicked it up a notch. And the middle ground is no
longer calm.

Just had some heated left-over macaroni and cheese mixed up w. left over spaghetti sauce.

It's almost 5:00pm and the weather continues. Probably blowing a steady 35 knots w higher gusts
(maybe 30 knots or approx 35mph) and driving rain from the east. I looked out toward the Schoodic
Peninsula and lo and behold a 35 - 40' sloop is sailing in, racing in alone, looking wonderful. What a
sight. Adventurers. I could not see the name or hailport on the stern with my binoculars because of
the dirty and steamed up kitchen windows, but I imagined she was named '
This is no dress rehearsal'
or 'WHAT ME WORRY'?

Water is making its way in through the east windows in the kitchen and dining room on the windows
where the storms are off. I put down some towels.
Cisterns have got to be overflowing, but I'm too cozy inside to head out and check.

The Common Eider Ducks (if that's what they are) are
still there right off the western shore outside
the sun room. I did a rough count. My estimate is 400 of these beautiful ducks, sitting, bobbing and
diving and surfacing.

Cooking up some Goya Chili Beans (boil 2 minutes & let soak for 1 hr - then drain and cook until
tender - I don't know how long that will take, and I'm not sure a bowl of chili beans in my stomach is
a good idea with the windows closed against the rain; probably asphyxiate myself and blow the seat
out of my underpants!)

Have spent a lazy day , relaxing and reading and looking, again, through all the wonderful books
that are here. I counted 800!

It's about 52 degrees in the kitchen here with the cold September east wind, but warmer than in the
rest of the house. The hot exhaust vent from the propane-fired refrigerator actually provides some
warmth and dryness in the kitchen.

I'm a little surprised the flag pole has not blown down in this blow! But I've got a fairly decent rock
pile around the base and I have it pretty well secured to the side of the shop.

No lights on at the Nauss house on Grindstone. Can see it from the north window of the dining room.


"Kitchen Boy", a novel by a Maine writer, just came out this Summer, and I bought a copy a couple
of weeks ago. (Sandy Pippen? is the author. He has been working on the book for 25 years!) I
heven't read it yet, but it is about his experiences (real) working as a kitchen boy in the old
Frenchman's Bay Lodge on Grindstone during the summer in the early 1960's. According to my
friend, Katherine Wise, who has started the book, the author writes about Bunny (Bernice
Richmond), using an alias for her, and writes about her getting married in Frenchman's Bay Lodge in
the early '60's. He writes that it was her FOURTH marriage. Well, I don't know how much of that is
true, but I've alaways wondered what happened to Bunny and Reg's marriage (first for both)! Maybe,
I'll check into it.

So much history here!

Interesting mental exercise: How long could I live on the island without going ashore ---- starting
right now? I may work on this idea at some point, but quick thoughts are:

(1) water - no problem
(2) food - probably could stretch what's here for one month, eating sparingly, but with only carrots
(and maybe some onions) from the garden as fresh vegetables. Vitamin C maybe a problem
(Cabbage would solve that, but don't have any). Food would be
very heavy on pasta! And canned
tomato sauce - (Vitamin 'C' in tomatos?)
(3) heat - probably okay thru December (It's  Sept 13 now). Have 2 kerosene heaters and approx 7-9
gallons of kerosene. Not a lot. Could get by a freeze with the approx 1/4 cord of  wood (in the shop)
in the dining room woodstove (although the stove and chimney are suspect v.v. fire). Hot water and
survival blankets (of which I have several) could get me through a time - a lot of time, maybe.
NEXT
BACK
Captain Lester "Cap" Leighton
(right), the last keeper of the Winter
Harbor Lighthouse, in retirement in
nearby Prospect Harbor. "Cap" left
the island at age 60 in 1934 when the
lighthouse was decommissioned and
the island sold into private hands. He
lived until 1970, age 94, and never
returned to Mark Island after 1934.
Friday 13 Sept 1996 continued
INSERT DIAGRAM - Boat/Mooring Hook-up